TRACY – Inspiration will take a team just so far.
In the 44th Annual Lions District 4-A1 All-Star Football Classic on Saturday night, Weston Ranch’s Andrew Farley was named the North’s Most Inspirational Player and led a stubborn North defense that blanked the South for the first half.
Farley kept up that impassioned play in the second half but Turlock’s Danny Velasquez and the special game rules helped the South come back to score 30-unanswered second-half points for a 30-17 win at
East Union’s Willie Herrera and his staff coached the North squad.
“The interesting thing you know going in is it was a question of how long the legs were going to last,” Herrera said. “And ours didn’t last all that long in the second half.
After being held to just four passing yards in the first half, Velasquez erupted for 115 passing yards in the second half along with 78 rushing yards before finishing with 233 total yards. Following Velasquez’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Austin Cook midway through the third quarter to make the score 17-6, the South got the ball back because of a 10-point second-half deficit.
The South made the most of it with Velasquez – who earned game MVP honors – throwing for his second touchdown less than two minutes later and adding two rushing touchdowns for most of his team’s second-half blitz.
“The first half was great,” Herrera said. “The morale was great and the locker room was good.
“In the second half the guys came out fired up and then we had a turnover and that kind of changed some things and along with the 10-point rule the momentum was kind of gone. We needed that one play to get us back and then we had another turnover. That’s football.”
Farley was tenacious throughout the night with eight tackles including two first-half sacks.
“I was just out there doing what I was supposed to do,” Farley said. “Making plays, getting sacks, causing a commotion – doing what a linebacker is supposed to do.”
Splitting quarterback duties with Jake Dunniway of St. Mary’s, East Union’s Jack Weaver electrified the crowd in the first half as he has throughout his career with three scrambles totaling 40 yards, including one to set up a 46-yard field goal by Ripon’s Thomas Sidtikan early in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
“That’s kind of how I played for the last four years,” Weaver said. “Scrambling is just something I do. The guys kind of mess with me about it but it is how I roll.
“It is fun to have these good guys to throw to – this was an all-star game and I was just trying to make plays.”
With 9:29 left in the game, Lincoln of Stockton’s Isaiah Downes grabbed a punt from the South and thanks to a bone-crushing block by Ripon’s Louis Candido reeled off a 37-yard punt return.
“There was some confusion as to if we were going to return it,” Candido said. “And when he did I had to make a block so I just hit the first guy I saw.”
Ripon’s Bryce Kinsey started each half with a big sack.
“We had a really good first half on defense,” Kinsey said. “We just kept making big plays.
“When the big plays happen I get fired up and that fires up the team.”